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A newly signed law allows Google to further perfect their autonomous automobiles.

Ever inching towards the future, Google Inc. has been granted approval to test their driverless cars on California roads by Governor Jerry Brown as of today, reports PBS. The driverless car project has been in the works since 2009, and California is the second state to grant licenses to driverless cars after Nevada.

“Driverless,” of course, doesn’t mean that there is no one in the driver’s seat, as that gives way to myriad safety and liability concerns. There is a pilot that oversees the vehicle and ensures its safety. However, the direction, speed, and signaling are all autonomously controlled by the vehicle’s software. The cars use an expensive piece of hardware called a LIDAR (Light Detection And Ranging) sensor, which is able to quickly measure the distance between objects by using lasers. The units in use on the Google cars cost approximately $70,000. They also use video cameras, radar sensors, and detailed maps (one of Google’s many claims to fame) to get around.

The long-term goal for these machines is to increase safety on the roads, improve traffic congestion conditions, reduce carbon emissions by improving efficiency, and diminish the need for highway patrol vehicle supervision. This could save millions of dollars in damages and taxes as well as save the thousands of lives lost every year in vehicle-related collisions. If that proves true, then we may, as a culture, experience a paradigm shift where driving is no longer viewed as dangerous or stressful. Driver’s education and licensing may not disappear, but could change to be simple training for using automobile software. And while that may be wishful thinking, at least Google is trying to make wishes come true.